Athlete Leadership Conference


Hello mudder, hello fadder, here I am in Grand Falls Windsor! Max Simms camp is entertaining. I am here receiving athlete speaker training!

Yesterday morning I hit the road with one of my best friends, Heather and her mother Shirley bound for Max Simms memorial camp for a Special Olympics athlete leadership conference. I was very excited for that adventure. I haven’t been on a road trip since last summer when my family drove to Green’s Harbor.

The drive was a lot of fun! Heather and I jammed out to music the whole way there. We sang along with Anne Murray, ABBA, a bit of everything.

We stopped for lunch at around 1:00 ish at Rod’s restaurant in Clarenville. The place was packed and we waited a really long time for our food!! When it finally did arrive, it was delicious! I ordered the 1 piece fish and chips. The batter was flaky and crispy and the fish was nice and fresh. The fries were done perfectly, golden brown with just the right amount of salt. There was a literal mountain of them on my plate! I couldn’t believe the portion size! I couldn’t finish them all.

We got to Max Simms at 4:30 last night. This is my first time at this camp. It’s a lovely little place with so many things to do! I took a little walk around yesterday evening and was amazed! There is a piano, television, even a games room with ping pong, pool and shuffleboard! I couldn’t wait to try everything out!

Supper last night was sweet and sour chicken with rice and steamed veggies. It was all super yummy! Desert was my favorite part of that meal. Peach cobbler!

After supper, we had our first set of meetings. We first got to know everyone a bit. There are athletes here from all over the province; Mount Pearl, Placentia, Grand Falls, even Labrador. We played a game of question ball to learn more about each other. It was fun getting to know the other athletes.

After that, we learned a bit more about the Athlete Leadership Council. Lots of interesting information. Huge congratulations to Heather on a fantastic presentation!

After the presentations we were free for the night! Heather and I decided to have a games night! We sat in the cafeteria and played one of our favorite games, Sushi Go! We built up an audience, many people stopped by to see what we were doing. I felt like one of those professional poker players that Dad watches on TV all the time! LOL!

Next, I taught an athlete and mentor from Grand Falls (I think… Correct me if I’m wrong!) how to play Exploding Kittens! We had a great time and laughed a lot!

Soon, it was time to go to bed. The beds in our rooms are so comfy and have beautiful homemade quilts! I slept really well.

Today was spent writing speeches. I’d like to thank Matthew McNally from Special Olympics PEI for coming this weekend and giving us tips on how to write our speech.

As we wrote each different piece of our speech, the opening, body and conclusion, we got to come up to the podium and read what we’ve written out loud. I was really impressed with what everyone wrote. We have a very talented group here this weekend! I can’t wait to hear everyone’s finished product tomorrow!

After writing our speeches, Heather and I had a game of pingpong in the games room. I am seriously considering joining the CBS Special Olympics pingpong league, I need a lot of practice! My ball hit the fire alarm, Heather’s glasses, it was chaotic to say the least!

Tonight is going to be so much fun! We are having a paint night!!! An artist is coming in to lead us through a painting tutorial. I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Can’t wait to try it tonight!

I look forward to putting the training I received this weekend to good use in the future and sharing my Special Olympics story with people all over CBS and St. John’s.

Leah

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Be a Buddy, NOT a Bully


Hey blog world. Today is Pink Shirt Day. For those of you who don’t know what that is, Pink Shirt Day is a day where people wear pink to show they are against bullying. I am head to toe in pink. I always go all out on Pink Shirt Day because anti-bullying is a cause I am very passionate about!

I have been a victim of bullying since the first day of Kindergarten. I’ve had pencils thrown at my back, belongings stolen from me, I’ve been physically bullied and have been called every name in the book. It hurts, a lot.

Most of my bullies were children my age, but one of them was a fully grown adult! My first grade teacher! That hurt the most. You’d think that being an adult she would have known better than to pick on a small child! She would get mad at me for having tics (involuntary, uncontrollable movements or sounds, such as skipping/jumping, excessive blinking, clearing my throat and coughing) during class because I was “just doing it for attention” (her actual words to my mother in a meeting!) She did nothing about the bullying that I was experiencing from my peers (she passed it off as “kids just being kids”!) and worst of all, one day when we were making a mother’s day project and I wasn’t paying attention when asked to put it away, she got so upset with me that she stormed over to my desk, snatched my project and threw it in the trash! The fact that she is still teaching is a complete shock to my system!

It makes me so sad to see people bullying others because they are different! Our differences are what make us all unique and special! The world would be so bland and boring if everyone looked, talked and acted the same. Everyone should be loved, respected and accepted for who they are!

In the Bible, Matthew 7:12 says this

So, in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you

Those are words that everyone should live by. If you wouldn’t want it said or done to you, don’t say or do it to someone else! Even though we are all different from each other in one way or another we all have feelings!

I honestly feel bad for the bullies out there. There has to be some reason that they are doing this, whether it be that their self-esteem is low or that they are going through some tough stuff at home. Whatever the reason, the fact that their trauma has caused them to turn into a bully is so sad. I am also sad for the bullies because they are missing out on so many amazing friends they could have made! I’m a lot of fun. If my bullies had chosen to get to know me first, they would have realized that and things could have been different!

Please, today and every day, do your part to stop bullying. If you see something, say something! Tell someone who can help make it stop! Most of all, please choose to be a buddy, not a bully! As I said above, get to know someone before you pass judgement! You might make a new best friend!

Leah

Gideon: Tuba Warrior


Hey blog world! Last night mom and I stopped by my sister’s house on the way home from school. She said she had something for Sam (my niece, her daughter.) When we got there, I discovered that she had something for me as well! She had gotten both of us a New Year’s present! I’m not sure what Sam got (she hasn’t shown me yet), but my present was a Hello Kitty necklace and a new VeggieTales DVD! I got “Gideon: Tuba Warrior” (released in 2006)! I was so excited when I opened it! I haven’t seen it yet! I have no plans for the evening, so I thought I’d relax and enjoy my new movie! Where I haven’t seen this yet, I thought I would do a review of it! Enjoy!

gideon

We open to Bob and Larry on the countertop. Bob picks up the viewer letter and begins to read. All he can manage to get out is the name of the sender before the Pirates who Don’t Do Anything barge in! This is getting interesting already! I wonder what they are going to do?! Ok, Pa Grape just answered my question, they are apparently “pirating this broadcast”… ok then.

A major shock to the system occurs when the pirates announce they have changed their ways (insert dramatic gasp here)! They have apparently gotten bored doing nothing (makes perfect sense honestly) and have decided that to give themselves something to do, they are going to take over the show! Mr. Lunt suggested scrapbooking instead, but Pa Grape shut that idea down. Shame, I love scrapbooking!

When we finally get around to the letter, Pa reads it aloud. A little girl in second grade is wondering what to do because there is a new girl at her school who is a bit weird and her friends don’t like this new girl. She knows God wants her to be friends with the new girl, but she’s afraid that she will lose her old friends if she befriends this person. My advice is to do what you know is right, make friends with the new girl. Everyone needs a friend! Mr. Lunt has this for advice, throw scrapbooking party! Good call Mr. Lunt! Those are always a fun time! Pa Grape decides to tell a story!

He tells us the true story of George Muller, a man who trusted God for everything. One night, a tabloid news reporter knocks on the door of his orphanage accusing him of running a school for alien dolphins?! (the writers liked to take creative liberties to make things more entertaining and interesting at times.) He denies the accusation, bids good night to the reporter and goes inside to play piano for the children. The reporter returns a short while later making another false accusation (this time that he is singing in tongues when really he and the children are all just singing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”). George denies this as well. Then, his wife enters the room and sadly tells him they have run out of food. There is nothing, not even a crumb to feed the children in the morning. So, they pray about it. The reporter is skeptical as to how that will work, so George invites him to breakfast the next day.

The next day, the reporter comes back as promised and there is still no food to be found, so George, his wife and the children all pray once more. Once they finish, the baker comes in carrying loaves of bread that he freshly baked that morning as God told him to and the milkman’s cart just so happens to break down in front of the orphanage. He gives all of his bottles of milk to the children in order to lighten the cart so he can repair it. It truly was a miracle!

After this story, we return to the kitchen. Pa Grape says that’s all the time we have for today. In my mind I’m thinking “That can’t be right! It hasn’t been half an hour yet! Or has it? And we didn’t even get a Silly Song?!”

Larry tells him that the show isn’t over yet! Yay! Now would be the time to do a Silly Song, then move on to the next story! Having no one to do the Silly Song for this episode as Larry and Mr. Lunt who have done them in the past are both in pirate costumes, it is decided that Bob will be the one to sing!

Bob does ukulele karaoke, singing a song that was written by the French Peas called “Lance The Turtle“. All is going well until Bob jumps out of his director’s chair with lyric sheets in hand. The papers get caught in spinning fan blades and are ripped into a million pieces! As they say, the show must go on, so the peas pick up the pieces and tape them together as best they can. The words are not at all in the right order and what ensues is a hilarious mish-mashed mess! I love every minute of it!

Onto the main story! The tale of Gideon who led a small army to defeat the Midianites. One day, an angel of the Lord, played by Pa Grape, appears unto Gideon. This angel must be new to the job as he was reading from a copy of “Angelic Interventions For The Not So Bright”! LOL!

He explains to Gideon that the Lord has chosen him to lead an army! Gideon doesn’t believe the angel and thinks that his brothers are better suited for this job as he is afraid of the dark, screams like a girl, is trained only in tuba playing and is nowhere near as big and strong as them. Did he not learn anything from David?! Little guys can do big things!

We are then treated to the first (and only) song in the show, a jazzy number, “Trust In The Great I Am”. Very catchy! I liked it! What I didn’t like though was Pa Grape’s face on the moon. Really rather creepy!

The angel asks Gideon what kind of a sign he needs to trust God. Does he want time to go backwards, mountains to fall, talking vegetables to tell Bible stories?! I died laughing at that self-deprecating joke! After two signs, both involving lamb’s wool, Gideon finally believes that the Lord is right in his decision to choose him to lead the battle.

Many men come to enlist as part of Gideon’s army (people will do anything for a free flashlight!) The group is cut down immensely after a 5 minute slushie break (yes, I know there were no 7-11’s back in Biblical times, but this is VeggieTales! Anything can happen!) Those who got brain freeze got the boot, the tough guys who managed to drink the whole thing unharmed were dubbed a member of Gideon’s army.

So the plan apparently is to defeat the Midianites with flashlights and horns?! Ok then… I was honestly a bit skeptical and thought that wouldn’t work. It didn’t really make any sense to me. I was curious to see how it would turn out. In the end, it worked! The Midianites heard the music and saw the lights, realized they were under attack and hopped as fast as they could out of there! A little sight gag during this scene that I thought was so funny was that one of the Midianites was in his housecoat, wearing a facemask and he had curlers in his hair!!

A short time later, we return to the countertop. It’s time to sing “What We Have Learned”! I really liked that the backup singers from “Lance The Turtle” made a comeback here and played a Hawaiian luau style version of the song! It was so cool!

The verse for today is Proverbs 3: 5&6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will direct your paths.

Bob tells us that’s all the time we have for today, but Pa Grape has one last idea! He’s had so much fun hosting the show that he wants to make a movie! Wait a year and two months Pa, you’ll get your wish. 😉

All in all, this was a great show! It gets a 7/10. See you next time blog world and remember, God made you special and he loves you very much!

Leah

Life Update


Hey blog world! It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’m back! I would have written more but Christmas is a super busy time of year and to top it all off my laptop was in for repairs as it was constantly freezing and randomly shutting down (don’t you just love technology!) Now, I’m back! A lot has happened lately, so I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what’s been going on!

Christmas. as I said was a busy time. Busy, but lots of fun! I spent several days in the kitchen baking treats! Mom usually does the Christmas baking, but because she was working and had no time this year, I volunteered to do it for her since I would be home all day almost every day. I was looking forward to spending time in the kitchen! I love to bake, but haven’t had much time to do so recently. I made a few old favorites, snowballs and peanut butter mice and decided to try some new recipes as well! Using recipes I found on the internet, I made sugar cookies, gingerbread men and a Newfoundland tea time staple, jam jams!

I owe mom a huge thank you as she saved my peanut butter mice! I completely firetrucked up when I made them! As I coated the mice in chocolate, I set them on an aluminum cookie tray to harden. I did not realize at the time that that was a bad idea. About an hour or so later, I returned to the kitchen and the mice looked like they had hardened well enough, so, I got out an empty cool whip container to put them in and set it on the table. I attempted to remove one of the mice from the tray and it wouldn’t move! The chocolate had stuck on to the tray! FIRETRUCK!!!!! I wound up totally mangling the cookies trying to move them from the tray to the empty cool whip tin! Mom came home, and by some miracle, she was able to salvage most of the mess and reshape it into mice, she then melted some more chocolate and coated each one and set them to dry on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When they had set, they were easily removed from the parchment! No big mangled mess! Thank God for mothers!

A few days before Christmas, I got to do something that I’d never done before. I went mummering!! Mummering is a Newfoundland Christmas tradition where people dress up in ridiculous costumes (humps on their back, oversized bras on over their clothes, mittens on their feet and boots on their hands, lampshades on their head, etc.) and hide their faces and they go from door to door and they sing, dance and fool around with the people of the house. The homeowners have to try and figure out who the mummers are. I have lived in Newfoundland for my entire 21 years of life and I had never ever gone mummering! At the S.U.F Christmas party back on December 22nd, mummers always come and have a dance with the people in the audience! This year, they were minus a mummer as my friend Viola who was supposed to play one had hurt her back and couldn’t do it. They needed someone to fill in and I volunteered right away! I wore an aviator cap, one rainbow colored mitten, a red and black checkered shirt and a pink housecoat. I had an amazing time dancing with the mummers and the people in the audience as well! I hope to get to do it again next year!

Christmas day was wonderful. My niece and I woke up at around 7:30 and went out to the living room to see if Santa had come. The tree was full of presents! We were both so excited that he had been here and couldn’t wait to open our gifts. After breakfast, we all gathered in the living room to watch each other open presents.

I got many lovely things this year. One of my favorite gifts was “Streaking Kittens” an expansion pack for my Exploding Kittens game! I’m really looking forward to playing that with my friends at our next game night! I was also very happy to receive a good quality jump rope! What a wonderful surprise from Santa! For those of you who don’t know, I am on the CBS Special Olypics rhythmic gymnastics team. In our competition this year, one of our routines (set to Hannah Montanna’s “Hoedown Throwdown”!) uses a rope. I had been practicing with was a cheap one from Dollarama. It wasn’t quite my size and it was rather old and falling apart. The handle on the left hand side would often slip down the rope. I’m looking forward to practicing my routine with my new, blue, cord jump rope. Another very pleasant surprise was two new LEGO sets! I was very surprised as LEGO’s are quite expensive, I thought that if any I would only get one. I got the LEGO architecture Buckingham Palace set (England is on my bucket list and this is one landmark I would love to see if I ever have the chance to go!) and the new Diagon Alley set from the Harry Potter line (again, big fan of England and many things from that country, Harry Potter being one. I haven’t seen all the movies, but really enjoyed the ones I have seen.)

Another really cool gift was one that was for the whole family, a Google Home Mini! Thanks mom! It’s amazing the things that it can do! Tell you the weather, play the radio, answer any question you have! Poppy asked it how the Canadians did in their game the night before and it told him. His face lit up! He was absolutely amazed! My heart overflowed!

Speaking of Poppy, one of his gifts this year was all three seasons of “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” on DVD plus a collection of her Christmas specials! Poppy dies at her, I do too (just a quick note for the non-Newfies, saying you “dies at” someone means you find them absolutely hysterical, so much so you feel like you are going to die laughing!) A few days later we had such fun watching some of the Christmas specials! I hadn’t seen Poppy that happy or heard him laugh that much in a long time.

I spent New Year’s Eve at the S.U.F Hall in Topsail. They have a special open mic/ New Year’s Party every year. It’s so much fun to get together with all my friends from the S.U.F and ring in the New Year with music and dancing! No better way to end a year off in my opinion!

Now it’s 2019! So far this year, I’ve done some pretty awesome stuff! On Monday night, I went to the staff Christmas party at Spirit of Newfoundland! That was the best night of my year so far! Heck, it was one of the best nights of my life so far!

One of the activities we did at the party was a cooking contest! We were split up into three teams for this event. I was on a team with Dana Parsons, Erin Winsor, Kathie Hicks, Caroline and two guys whom I had never seen before (I assume they are new) whose names I’m not sure of (we unfortunately didn’t have a chance to introduce ourselves.) Then, each team went up to a table in the dining room. On each table was a different protein. Each team revealed what they had to work with. The white team got codfish, the yellow team got ground beef and my team got imitation crab. We then had 20 minutes to prepare hors d’oeuvres for 10 people using our protein.

I had an idea right away as to what to do with the crab and I shared it with my team. Get some mayo and celery and we’ll do a seafood salad! That’s exactly what we all did. I was in charge of chopping up the crab. I also fetched utensils, bowls, etc. when necessary.

We were close to finishing our salad when we had a few more ideas! There were some loaves of our homemade sourdough bread in the kitchen, so we grabbed one, cut it up into small pieces, threw some olive oil over it and baked them. Once they came out of the oven, we put a little bit of our salad on top of each one. We served it on a pretty silver tray with a red napkin on top. It looked really nice!

Dana also came up with an idea to make guacamole! She managed to whip that up really fast and get it into a bowl. Not long after she had the guacamole in the bowl, Adam the sound guy who was a competitor on the white team came over to our side of the kitchen. He looked at our guacamole, said “Wow! That looks amazing” and before anyone could stop him, he grabbed a chip, piled a mountain of guacamole on it and ran! I could not believe that he had just sabotaged us! Evil little firetrucker! Thankfully, Dana managed to make more just in time.

At the end of our 20 minutes, each team presented their dish. The white team had made a fish taco and the yellow team made burritos. They both looked really good! We were up against some pretty serious competition! In the end, by unanimous decision from the judges, the gold team won! Yay us!!! I was so proud of everyone on my team! I didn’t get a chance to sample the white team’s dish, but, after all was said and done I tried one of the yellow team’s burrito’s and it was absolutely delicious! Well done yellow team!

The best part of the night that night, hands down was the spontaneous karaoke dance party! After getting a drink from the bar, I popped in to the dining room to see what was going on and Adam was up on stage singing “Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm” by the Crash Test Dummies. I’d never heard him sing before. He was really good! As he sang, I started dancing, just kinda swaying to the music on my own. Janet saw what I was doing and asked me to dance with her, so I did! My heart overflowed with happiness as I danced with Janet!

We apparently have some very talented servers working at Spirit! Sarah and Caroline sang a few tunes and I thought they were awesome! I was really impressed with the girl who sang Blind Melon’s “No Rain”! Wow! With a voice like hers, she is really going to go places.

I never pass up an opportunity to sing for an audience, so I took a turn on the stage! I sang one of my go-to karaoke songs, Rod Stewart’s “The First Cut Is The Deepest”. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt in that moment, everyone was singing along, there was smoke pouring from the fog machine, Adam backing me up on drums, it was incredible!

We did a few group numbers at the end, those were two of my favorite performances of the night! We did Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”! I loved it!

The biggest thing that’s happened to me so far this year was my return to the classroom! This week was my first full week of classes in the Early Childhood Education program at CONA. I fell behind and failed two courses during my first year (I was hospitalized thanks to my colon who didn’t seem to understand its job title as an internal organ! Read more about that here.) so I am back to do them over again! With hard work, determination and help from my best friend/tutor Peter, I’m confident that this time I will pass those two courses!

Now you’re up to speed! I look forward to seeing what the rest of this year will bring and sharing it with all of you!

Leah

Grinch Dressing & Gravy 2018


Hey blog world! I spent last Wednesday and Thursday night in the colorful, magical province of Whofoundland! I went to the Holy… or rather, Wholy Heart Theatre to see Spirit of Newfoundland’s production of “Grinch Dressing & Gravy”.

Those who have been following my blog for a long time will remember that I did a review of this show in 2014 when I first saw it at the Masonic Temple. The Grinch is Spirit’s most popular Christmas show, people always ask Peter when would he remount the Grinch. He decided that this year, since it is such a crowd favorite, he would bring it back, but on a much larger scale! This time, it was performed on a bigger stage and he added a dance troupe (Ignite Dance Company). I was so excited when I heard it was coming back! It is my second favorite Spirit show (my #1 favorite is “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop”, which I have seen 4 times!) I got tickets as soon as I could!

I was not just a member of the audience, I also did something very special during both nights of the show’s run. For those of you who don’t already know, I am an artist in my spare time (click here to visit my Facebook page for more information on that.) and the money that I make from selling my paintings goes to the Masonic Temple’s restoration fund. The Masonic Temple (the building that Spirit operates out of) is such a wonderful place. Not only is it a breathtakingly beautiful historical site, but it is also it is one of few places that I truly feel like I belong and fit in. I want to do everything I can to help save it. Thank you so much Peter, Paul and Kathie for allowing me to set up shop in the lobby of Holy Heart during the show and sell my paintings to people.

I really enjoyed sitting at my table those two nights and interacting with the people as they would come to my stand. I especially loved seeing a very enthusiastic little girl come by my stand on Wednesday evening. She was wide eyed and full of childlike wonder as she looked at my paintings. She went on and on to her daddy about how pretty they all were! I thought that was so sweet! In total, I sold 8 paintings over the two nights. Thank you so much to everyone who bought one from me. Your money is going to a very worthwhile cause!

On Wednesday night, I got to sit in the audience during the show! It was such a magical, heartwarming and funny performance! I loved every minute of it!

As you all know, this story takes place in Whoville which is located inside a snowflake like the one on your sleeve. Peter took a few creative liberties when rewriting this tale. “Grinch Dressing & Gravy” is set in Whofoundland which, as Michael the narrator tells us, is just around the bay! you go past the three hearts, content, delight and desire and you’ll find Whofoundland nestled in-between Dildo and Whiteway.

We then get to meet the Whofoundlanders as they prepare for the Wholiday season and sing “Trim Up The Tree”. It was such a fun and cheery song! It put a big smile on my face! Also, it sounded wonderful, all the voices of the Who’s sounded lovely harmonizing together!!

While most of the Who’s are having fun, Mallory Johnson’s character, Cindy-Lou (who in this version was a lot older than two (judging by the way she spoke, acted and presented herself I’m going to guess probably 8), isn’t. She thinks the whole idea of Christmas is superfluous! We soon learn that her mother Martha May (Gita Wigdorchik) isn’t in the Christmas spirit either. It was this time of year when she lost her husband, Cindy Lou’s father. I felt bad for her, the first few Christmases after you lose someone special are always hard. Together, they sang songs expressing their feelings. Mallory gave a breathtaking, beautiful, goose-bump inducing performance of “Where Are You Christmas”. I’m not sure of the name of the song that Gita sang, but it was very powerful and emotional. Well done both of you!

Soon, Michael began talking about the Grinch. He said that one suspected reason why the Grinch is the way he is is because he is from Toronto and is a Leafs fan! LOL! I can’t wait to tell that to my bocce coach at our team’s Christmas party tonight (he is die-hard for the Leafs)!

The Grinch was played to perfection by Peter Halley. It always kind of throws me for a loop whenever Peter plays a villain.  He is a teddy bear! Sweet, caring, the nicest person I’ve ever met. The Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small, Peter’s is three sizes too big! It blows my mind how someone like him without a mean bone in their body can play an evil doer so well! Really goes to show how amazing of an actor Peter is.

He is also an amazing singer! I loved his version of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” with some little Newfoundland twists

You’re a dirtbag, Mr. Grinch. You really are from hell! You’re as cuddly as a sculpin, you’re charming as Andy Wells

“Lonely Christmas Eve”, sung by the Grinch really hit me in the feels. He reveals that he’s not so bad, he’s just lonely and hates to see everyone but him having a good time. It made me want to give the Grinch a big hug. He seemed like he needed one.

While still talking about the Grinch, I’d like to give a big shout-out to Sarah Lind, the makeup artist! She is extremely talented! This is a recent (ish) picture of Peter Peter

and here he is as the Grinch Grinch Peter What an incredible transformation! Hard to believe its the same person!

Along with stealing all the trees, presents, etc. the Grinch plotted to ruin Christmas by stealing all the favorite Newfoundland traditions! He bought out all the turkey’s from Whominion, acquired a bunch of spruce budworms from the government for a “scientific experiment” (in reality he wanted them to destroy all the Christmas trees) and took over Mt. Scio Farms and Purity Factories! The funniest bit was when the person from Whominion that he was speaking to asked for the name of the credit card holder, he said Dwight Ball (our premier!) As funny as all this was, I certainly wouldn’t have liked to have been a Who in Whofoundland when this was all going on! All the changes he made to the Purity and Mt. Scio products sound nasty! Ginger craps, unsavory, asparagus syrup! EWWW! Makes me throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it!

At one point, the Grinch asks his dog Maxine (played by Dana Parsons) what she wants for Christmas. She confesses that she wants to go down off the mountain and spend time with the Who’s. She does this by singing a killer rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”! This is one of my favorite songs to hear Dana sing! She is such a vocal powerhouse and she rocks this song! The dancing fleas, courtesy of Ignite, were a nice touch. For pesky little insects, they had some cool moves! This was a real standout for me, one of the best musical performances in the show!

The Carner By’s (a group of skeets played by Michael, Keith and Dana) were back! As always they had me in stitches laughing! This time, after they had their smoke, they decided to play a game of boggers! Boggers is a game of dares. You say “Boggers on you, 1, 2, 3!” and dare someone to do something. Dana says “Boggers on da two a ye! Let’s go up and get the Grinch on the go!” Michael thinks its a wicked idea, Keith isn’t so sure. Eventually, after some peer pressure, he is convinced to go up with them. They learn the the hard way that the Grinch is someone you really don’t want to firetruck with when Michael’s plan to make the Grinch poop his pants backfires and goes the other way around!

At the start of the second act, the Who’s had a special “Who-In” ceremony where they crowned the Who-In King and Queen. Gita looked absolutely gorgeous during this scene, like a human Barbie doll. To kick off the ceremony, she sang “Perfect Christmas Night”. This was another standout performance for me. She sounded awesome! Her voice suits jazz and rock n roll songs really well.

We learn in this scene that the mayor of Whoville and also Martha’s fiance, Homer Who (Keith Power) is extremely vain and self-centered. His name was the only one on the Who-In King voting ballot! He rigged the whole thing! Applicants had to fill out an extremely long questionnaire and submit an entrance fee that was over $9000! Not in the least bit fair! I agreed with Cindy Lou when she said its time they give someone else a chance at the crown. It was so funny seeing how upset he was when he (rightfully) had the crown taken from him (by who I won’t say so that I don’t spoil anything!)! He was clinging onto it for dear life!

The ending is my favorite part of the Grinch. This is one of my favorite excerpts from the book…

It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags! The Grinch puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore, then he thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas perhaps doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.

As those lines were said in the show, I sat there with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and tears in my eyes. It was such a beautiful moment! Even more beautiful was the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes and the twist ending that followed! I won’t spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, all I’ll say is it involves Signal Hill and a Toyota Camry. You’ll have to wait until NTV airs the show to see just what this lovely surprise is!

To cap off the performance, the cast sang a few Christmas songs, my favorite was “Jingle Bells”. I love the way they do that song! It’s super fast and a lot of fun! As one final song, they of course sang “Spirit of Newfoundland”, the song that they end every show with. As always, it was absolutely beautiful!

For those of you who didn’t get to see the show live, this Sunday, it will air on NTV! Set your PVR’s! This is something not to be missed! Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy Wholidays!

Leah

 

Christmas Around The World 2018


Hey blog world! Last Tuesday, November 20th, was a special day for me. I turned 21! I had such a wonderful Birthday. The celebrations lasted all week and included Chinese takeout, an improv show, several cakes (screech cake, cheesecake and vanilla cake), lots of family time and my favorite Birthday tradition, a night out at Spirit of Newfoundland!

The Christmas season at Spirit always begins on or around my Birthday. I make a point every year to go out with one or two close friends and/or family members to see the Christmas show as a special early or belated celebration. Last Friday, I chose to spend my special Birthday evening with my new boyfriend Jordan and our friend Jim from the Best Buddies program (click the link for more info on Best Buddies, it’s an amazing organization I highly recommend becoming part of!)

This year’s Christmas production is a rerun of “Christmas Around The World”, a show, written by Peter Halley that Spirit performed back in Christmas 2013. I was there to see it during it’s original run and really enjoyed it, so I was quite excited when I heard they were doing this again. I was eager to see how they would revamp it for 2018. Click here to view my review of the original 2013 production of the show.

Jim was excited to come to the show as well! He had never been to a dinner theatre before and was really looking forward to seeing the show and trying the food. Jordan on the other hand was not as excited. He didn’t think he would like it (musicals aren’t his thing). I hoped he would change his tune by the end of the evening.

When we arrived at the Masonic Temple, it was like we had stepped into a winter wonderland! I wish I had thought to take pictures! The decorations were mesmerizing! There were rainbow colored reindeer, lots of pretty colored lights, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and what I thought was a really nice touch was Santa’s nice list was hung from the balcony of the stage and it contained the names of many employees of Spirit of Newfoundland and something nice about them (i.e, Erin: sweet, just like her dad, Adam: tech wizard). What a lovely and thoughtful gesture.

When the doors to the main room opened, Jordan, Jim and I found our table and sat down. We began to tuck into the breadbasket that was filled with Spirit of NL’s absolutely mouthwatering homemade sourdough bead! To go with the bread, there were different types of homemade butter. Jim fell absolutely in love with one that was made with I believe sun dried tomato (at least, that’s what it tasted like to me, correct me if I’m wrong chef Darrell). Seriously, after the bread was gone and our server came around to clear the basket off our table, he was going to take the plate of butter away, but Jim asked him to leave it there and he ate the rest of the sun-dried tomato butter with his spoon! Still a better love story than Twilight! Ha! By the way, chef Darrell, if you come across this, Jim wants your recipe! He has been begging me to ask you for it!

For our appetizer that evening, we were served a savory sweet potato soup with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and white wine garnished with a garlic aoli. I am not a fan of sweet potato, but gave this soup a try to see if the white wine, cinnamon, etc. would perhaps mask the flavor and make it a bit more palatable. It wasn’t the best thing I’d ever eaten (that being said, I mean no disrespect to Darrell, sweet potato just isn’t my thing!) but it wasn’t awful. Jim and Jordan however both really enjoyed the soup. Jordan went so far as to say it was one of the best he’d had!

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Our main course that evening was a choice between traditional turkey dinner or stuffed pork loin filled with apple & cranberry stuffing and topped with an apricot reduction. I chose the pork and Jim and Jordan opted for the turkey.

The pork was very nice, tender and flavorful. The stuffing was delicious as well! All the different flavors paired excellently with each other. My meal came with a side of vegetables, carrots, mashed turnip and mashed potato. The mashed potato was firetrucking incredible!!!! I don’t know what Darrell did to it, but it was so fluffy and creamy and absolutely perfect!

Not long after we ate, the show began. That evening, Kara Noftle was in the role of Mrs. Claus. I thought she looked lovely in her costume and I really liked the New York esque accent that she had. In this scene, she was on the phone with a friend of hers and had quite a shocking confession to make… she was thinking of leaving Santa Claus!!! He’s sullen, crooked as sin, drinks too much egg nog, and between preparing for Christmas and flying around the world, he hasn’t much time for her.

Leaving the audience with a cliff-hanger, wondering whether or not she is going to go through with her plan, the whole cast of the show (Michael Power, Keith Power (no relation), Dana Parsons and Kara) came out in plain-clothes and sang a song about Christmas around the world set to the tune of Bony M’s “Rivers Of Babylon”. It was a lot of fun! I was dancing and singing along the whole time!

After singing the song, they shared some worldly Christmas traditions. Pop quiz: What’s traditional Christmas dinner in Japan? If you guessed any sort of Japanese fare you are wrong! Sushi, mochi and other traditional Japanese dishes do not grace the table on Christmas Day, instead they dine on KFC (or, as Michael Power so eloquently puts it, “dead bird in a box”!) We also learn that in Italy, instead of writing letters to Santa, children write letters to their parents telling them how much they love them! Isn’t that the sweetest thing! I thought that was so lovely.

As they talked about the various Christmas traditions, they sang Christmas songs from various places all over the world. I loved every song they sang during this segment, but Venezuela, Italy and Mexico were certainly my top three favorites! In Venezuela, they have a rather unique way of getting to mass, they roller-skate! The cast put on invisible roller blades and skated around the stage as they sang “Feliz Navidad”. After singing through the chorus once, Michael announces it’s time to reverse skating at which point, they jump up, turn around and go the other way! I thought that was really cool! After singing that song, Michael says to the audience that people in Newfoundland would sing the song a little differently and he begins to sing “Police Got My Car” by Newfoundland parody artist Snook! Jordan and I both nearly bust a gut we were laughing so hard!

As I said above, Italy has the lovely Christmas tradition of children leaving letters for their parents. Christmas and children inspired a very cute little song that the cast then sang for us called “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey”. The chorus of that song made me laugh a lot!

When they got to Mexico, they sang one of my favorite Christmas songs, “The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Big”! It’s such a funny song! Even funnier was when Keith sang “Can’t tell one thing from another I got married to my brother!” and then on the screen above the stage appeared a (photo-shopped) wedding photo of Keith marrying his identical twin!

Next, they talked about toys! They shared Time Magazine’s list of the top 10 most influential toys from the 20’s to the present day. It was fun looking back at what toys were most popular in which era. One thing that really surprised me during this segment was something that Michael said when they were talking about the Tickle Me Elmo. Apparently, a Wal-Mart employee in New Brunswick was trampled when parents saw him carrying a box full of those toys! And I thought Black Friday in the states was bad!! My word!

The corner by’s made a return to Spirit of Newfoundland’s stage that evening and I was thrilled to see them! It had been a year since I had seen skeets/hard tickets grace the stage at Spirit and I missed them and their antics. Keith, Dana and Michael always knock it out of the park when they play skeets. Their accents, mannerisms, everything about them is absolutely hysterical! One thing I love about Michael’s skeet character is this. The corner by’s always have a puff of their (fake) smoke when they are on stage and Michael blows smoke rings! I’ve seen him do this multiple times and it still never ceases to amaze me! It’s the coolest thing!

A little later, we return to Mrs. Claus’ office in the North Pole to see her once again on the phone with her friend. I don’t want to spoil the show for those who haven’t seen it, so I won’t say much about what they talk about, all I will say is that she has written a letter to Santa expressing her feelings. At the end of this scene, she begins to wonder if this is really what she wants. She then sings Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas”. Kara did a beautiful job on this song. It sounded so pretty!

We also take a trip to Vegas during act 1! Skip Stone the Vegas comic comes out to tell a few jokes. I liked the ones about his mother in law, I thought those were very funny. I didn’t get the one about lobster tail and beer (there was a deal on lobster tail and beer at a hotel and he said he would take that in as those are his three favorite things), but everyone else in the room laughed. He also told a joke about Elvis that I found was rather cheesy. What did Elvis say to his gardener? Thank you, thank you for the mulch.

After the jokes, Skip announced that there were a few celebrities in the building who were going to come out and perform! First up was Cher! Dana’s Cher always has me rolling! It’s a spot on and very, very funny impression!

A little later, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton arrived! Whenever Kenny Rogers takes part in a show at Spirit of Newfoundland, they like to have a little fun at his expense, the actor playing Kenny always wears a stocking over their face! I commend Michael for his amazing performance. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to perform with that stocking distorting your face! Nevertheless, he did a fantastic job. He nailed the voice, was very funny and gave an excellent performance of “I’ll Be Home With Bells On”!

Dolly and Cher had a little sing-off. They each walked out into the audience and sang snippets of a few of their greatest hits. It amazes me how Dana sounds almost exactly like Cher! Close your eyes and you’d swear it really was her! Kara did a fantastic Dolly impression. I loved it when the girls would interact with unsuspecting men in the audience. In almost every show, one of the female cast members will often go out into the audience in search of an empty lap to sit on and once they find one, they sit down and serenade that person. The reactions of the lucky audience members are always priceless!

After this, it was time for desert, screech cake! It’s the most delicious cake you will ever eat! The screech caramel sauce that’s paired with it is delicious as well. It’s got a nice hint of sweetness that contrasts very well with the strength of the rum in the sauce and the cake. Jordan had had it once before when I had my family party at my house. He really enjoyed it then and did so again that night. I was very excited to see what Jim thought of the cake as he had never had it before. He thought it was absolutely delicious! I was so glad that he liked it!

In act two, there is another list! This time, it’s the list of the top 10 best selling Christmas songs of all time. Michael, Dana and Keith do this segment and they do it excellently! The harmonies are wonderful! There were a few songs on the list that I wasn’t surprised to see such as “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” and “White Christmas”. However, there was one that I was very surprised by. That was #2 on the list, a song by one of my least favorite artists; “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber. Now, while I absolutely hate Justin Bieber, I will admit that I do like the song. It’s literally the only one of his songs that I don’t mind, but, I only like it the way that Keith does it. Justin’s voice just really gets to me.

#1 on the list was Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Dana absolutely slayed that song! She brought the house down! It was my favorite musical performance of the night! The wind machine and the snow were a really nice touch during this performance!

We also get to hear a special Open Line segment hosted by Paddy Daly (Keith) about Newfoundlander’s favorite Christmas traditions! Each caller was very funny and entertaining in their own way, I can’t pick a favorite!

My favorite skit in the show was Michael’s “Christmas Reflections From Around The Bay” monologue. It was about Poppy John, originally from Capelin Cove, who was now living in St. John’s to be closer to his family and one memorable Christmas he spent in his daughter’s home. His grandchildren were all in a frenzy opening their presents, squealing and laughing, and there was no order to it at all, everything was open it now, eat it now, wear it now, etc. There was so much noise and chaos, and then suddenly, everything stopped. The lights went out, the music stopped playing, there was no more beeping and buzzing. So, as hot chocolate and tea was made on the stove, Poppy John told stories of his Christmases in Capelin Cove. This monologue is so beautiful, so much so that it always brings a tear or two to my eye and it makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy. I have a real soft spot for seniors. One thing that I thought made the monologue even more sweet and lovely this year was that Poppy John tells us how he would just sit there like a puppet saying “That’s a dandy Michael!”, “Only the best for you Lilly!”, this year he added in “That’ll fit you in a few years Percy!” Percy is Peter Halley’s new baby nephew (and the most handsome little human on the face of the earth I might add!) I thought it was so nice that he is now included in the monologue along with Michael and Lilly his big brother and sister.

As the show neared the end, we were treated to a medley of Christmas songs. Dana began with a beautiful rendition of James Taylor’s “Some Children See Him”, then the whole cast moved onto a breathtaking performance of one of my favorite Christmas carols, “When A Child Is Born”. By the end of that piece of the medley I had goosebumps and a few more tears in my eyes!

Soon, the skeets come back and Michael announces that he is going to join the Basilica’s church choir next Christmas. Keith doesn’t sound so sure about Michael singing gospel. Michael then whips a microphone out of his pocket and puts Keith in his place. He gives us a powerful and soulful performance of “Go Tell It On The Mountain”.

It would be remiss of me to be this far down in the blog post and not mention the magnificent band that was on stage that night! There was Evan Smith on piano, Boomer Stamp on drums, Frank Fusari on bass and Brad Jefford on the guitar, a stellar lineup if you ask me! Each one is exceptionally talented and together they made awesome music!

At the end of the show, I asked Jordan what he thought of it. He said it was amazing! It was funny and very entertaining! He was very glad he came and can’t wait to come back! Yay! I was thrilled to hear that he liked it that much! Jim was in the same boat, he absolutely loved the show and wants to come back soon too.

Before we left, I got to introduce Jordan to my friends in the cast and we got a picture together as well! Jordan really enjoyed meeting and talking to them all. I’m so glad that he did.

Christmas Cast 2

“Christmas Around The World” was a phenomenal show from start to finish, a perfect way to cap off my 21st Birthday celebrations! If you would like to see this show, it is running until January 6th. Click here, or call 579-3023 to make your reservation!

But wait… there’s more! Spirit is also doing Christmas luncheons featuring the rotating cast of Peter Halley and Shelley Neville and Evan Smith and Kara Noftle. While you enjoy a delicious three course buffet style lunch, the performers, along with a three piece band (Frank Fusari, Bill Brennan and Boomer Stamp), will sing Christmas carols! Lastly, back by popular demand, Spirit is taking its Newfoundland adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss Christmas tale to a much larger scale as they perform “Grinch Dressing & Gravy” at the Holy Heart Theatre on December 12th and 13th. To purchase your tickets for that show (which I highly recommend you do!) click here, or call 579-4424.

Leah

Wednesday Jam


Nothing makes the whole world right like music and friends

Bud Davidge

Hey blog world! Wednesday is my favorite day of the week! I say that because every Wednesday, I go to the weekly jam session at the S.U.F Hall and spend the morning singing and dancing with the most wonderful group of people!

I am the youngest person at the jam. Everyone else is 50+. I love spending time with that generation for several reasons. One reason is because they have good taste in music! My Niece is 13 and she loves rap music. I can’t stand it! Most rap songs are full of swear words and a lot of the stuff she listens to has some very inappropriate subject matter. I prefer the music that my parents and grandparents grew up with. Real music with minimal swearing and no auto-tune. Some of my favorite musicians are Roger Miller, George Jones, Marty Robbins and Buddy Holly.

Another reason why I love spending my Wednesday mornings with older people are because they are so interesting! Among our group we have (among many other interesting personas) a teddy bear man and a pilot who built his own airplane! They all have so many stories to tell and I love to listen to them.

The people at the S.U.F jam session are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! That’s the thing I love most about them. We’re like one big family! Whenever one of us is down, the others are always there to help pick them back up. If one of us is hospitalized or has experienced a loss of a family member, that following Wednesday a card will make its way around the room that everyone signs with a heartfelt message of support. Once we even made a video of ourselves singing “Keep On The Sunny Side” and sent it to a regular attendee of the jam who was spending time in the hospital.

Everyone at the jam is very accepting. We welcome anyone and everyone (of 19 years and older) no matter what their race, religion, sexuality or ability. The S.U.F hall is one of few places I actually feel like I fit in! I haven’t got to worry about being ridiculed or bullied at all. I’m treated only with kindness and respect. That means the world to me.

Even stuffed dragons are welcome and accepted at the jam! I have a stuffed dragon named Stuffy that I take everywhere with me and use as a calming mechanism. If I become anxious, overwhelmed, scared or have a meltdown related to either my sensory issues or my globophobia I pull Stuffy out of my purse or pocket and give him a hug to help myself feel better and calm down. At the S.U.F, he’s just another regular attendee of the jam, like everyone else! People ask me how he’s doing (and some people ask Stuffy himself!), some pat him on the head if they see him peeking out of my purse or sitting next to me and on a few occasions, he’s even been offered a 50/50 ticket (he has yet to win, but he’s hopeful!)

Stuffy at SUF

Stuffy and I with our close friend Gerry Russell at the Canada Day jam session.

The music that is played every week is so diverse. At the Wednesday morning jam you’re guaranteed to hear a bit of everything, Irish/Newfoundland, country, folk, rock-n-roll and sometimes even hula! Something that I think is really cool is that some performers play songs that they themselves have written! Terry Rielley always has a brand new, original tune to share with us.

The jam boasts some astounding performers! There are certain people who leave me with goosebumps when I hear them sing and others who absolutely blow my mind with their guitar playing ability! There is no shortage of talent at the S.U.F, I can guarantee that!

If the music moves you, you are always welcome to get up and dance! That is one of my favorite things about the jam! When someone plays a jig or something else fast and fun, myself and a group of other ladies love to get out on the floor and dance together! When something soft and slow plays, there are always a few couples who share a slow dance.

Hungry? No problem! There are always lots of yummy things to eat. Deviled eggs, sandwiches, and lots of sweet treats as well, yesterday we had chocolate cake, snowballs and chocolate chip banana bread! What’s really nice is that a lot of the goodies at the snack table are homemade! Things always taste better that way in my opinion. We also have a cake once a month on “Birthday Wednesday” to collectively celebrate all Birthday’s happening that month and on the last Wednesday of every month there is a potluck dinner immediately following the jam where almost everyone brings a homemade dish to share. As you can see, there is no shortage of delicious food, you will never leave the jam session hungry!

If you like good music, friendly people and yummy food, I strongly recommend coming to the Wednesday jam, held every Wednesday morning at the S.U.F Hall on Topsail Road (next door to the fire station and across the road from Topsail United Church) from 9:30 until 12:30. See you next week!

Leah